How to Become a Police Officer in Oakland
The major California port city of Oakland has a population of 419,267 people.1 To meet the needs of residents, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) employs approximately 750 sworn officers and 296 civilian support staff.2 Thanks to the efforts of the OPD, while Oakland remains one of the most dangerous cities in America with high rates of violent crimes, the overall crime rate has dropped 23% since 2012.3 The hiring and training process for the Oakland Police Department is outlined below.
Oakland Police Officer Requirements
The Oakland Police Department is always looking for new recruits to join the team. The department holds new recruits to high standards and puts them through a rigorous selection process. To qualify, candidates must:
- Be a minimum age of 21 years by the end of basic training
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Hold US citizenship or be a permanent resident alien who has applied for US citizenship
- Possess a valid driver’s license
- Be free of any felony convictions or any convictions that would prevent an individual from carrying a gun
Hopeful OPD recruits start the process by submitting an application and then taking a written exam. Candidates may either sign up to take the National Testing Network (NTN) Frontline Test or the Police Entry Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (PELLETB). Those who successfully pass the written exam can then take the physical ability test. The OPD offers regular workshops to help candidates prepare to pass the physical ability test, and recommends that candidates attend these workshops to build fitness and relationships with current OPD recruiting personnel. The next step is an oral board interview, which is followed by a background check and a psychological screening. Accepted recruits will be assigned to an upcoming police academy class.
For more information about how to become a cop in a typical big city, see 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our home page. If you are ready to apply, find specific application information at Oakland Police Department – Recruiting.
Oakland Police Academy
The Oakland Police Academy is a rigorous, 26-week training program that prepares new recruits for the job of patrolling and policing the city. Trainees learn about criminal law, community relations, vehicle operations, first aid, traffic enforcement, firearms, and other topics needed to work on the force. The academy is designed to be both mentally and physically demanding and is run in a paramilitary-style. Recruits attend training Mondays through Fridays with some late nights and weekends.
Oakland Police Department Information
The divisions of the Oakland Police Department include Internal Affairs, Training, Ceasefire, and Bureau of Field Operations 1 and 2. New officers generally begin their careers with a patrol assignment in order to gain experience before applying to specialized units. Specialized units within the OPD include robbery, burglary, special victims, and homicide.
Due to several highly-publicized incidents involving police corruption and inappropriate use of force, the Oakland Police Department operates under the supervision of an independent monitor through a negotiated settlement agreement with the City of Oakland.4 With these solutions, the Oakland Police Department has continued to make progress towards meaningful reform that puts the needs and interests of citizens and their public safety first. One of the target areas of the settlement agreement is reforming the recruiting process with strengthened measures designed to eliminate candidates who are unsuitable for police work early in the hiring and training process.5
The Oakland Police Department strives to engage community members and to get residents involved in building relationships with the department. The OPD offers a number of services to residents of Oakland, including community policing, special event policing, youth services, and neighborhood services including fun events like block parties. The Neighborhood Services Division is responsible for getting neighborhoods involved in local safety and also hosts a Citizens’ Academy for adult residents interested in learning more about the Department. For young people, the Youth Services Division offers a Police Activities League, which hosts free athletic events, the Oakland Police Explorers for teenagers to learn about policing, and several other activities.
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
While in the police academy, Oakland police officers receive a monthly salary of $6,253.5 With annual step increases, this can rise to a maximum of $10,307 per month after five years.5 Further increases are possible based on special assignments and promotions to the supervisory ranks. Oakland police also receive health and life insurance, paid time off, and transit/parking reimbursement. Officers are also eligible to participate in contributory pension and deferred compensation plans.
The average annual salary for patrol officers in Oakland is $106,000.6 The outlook for law enforcement jobs in California is positive. Growth is expected to be 5% through 2026 with an average of 350 new positions added to law enforcement agencies each year.7 For more information on current OPD law enforcement positions, take a look at our jobs board page.
Cities and Police Departments Near Oakland
There are about 8,530 police and sheriff’s patrol officers employed in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan corridor.6 For prospective officers who would like to live in this area but prefer a less urban working environment, there are multiple suburban police departments around Oakland. The table below outlines selected Oakland-area PDs with police employment and crime data.
|Police Dept. Total Employees9
|Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 People10
|Property Crime Rate per 1,000 People10
|Alameda Police Department (APD)
|Berkeley Police Department (BPD)
|Hayward Police Department (HPD)
|Oakland Police Department (OPD)
|San Francisco Police Department (SFPD)
|San Leandro Police Department (SLPD)
- Fraternal Order of Police, California State Lodge: This member-driven organization represents police officers statewide by lobbying for better benefits and working conditions for law enforcement.
- Oakland Police Officers’ Association: The Oakland Police Officers’ Association provides programs and support to area police.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Oakland, California: https://www.bestplaces.net/city/california/oakland
2. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports By City By State: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-26/table-26.xls/view
3. The Mercury News, “Violent Crime in Oakland Down 23 Percent Since 2012,” 9 Jan. 2018: https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/01/09/decline-in-oakland-violent-crime-sparks-hope/
4. City of Oakland, Oakland Police Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA) Reports: https://www.oaklandca.gov/resources/oakland-police-negotiated-settlement-agreement-nsa-reports
5. Oakland Police Department: https://www.oaklandca.gov/departments/police
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_41860.htm
7. Projections Central: https://www.projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm
8. US Census Bureau, QuickFacts: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045221
9. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Full-time Law Enforcement Employees by State by City: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-26/table-26.xls/view
10. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Offenses Known to Law Enforcement by State by City: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-6/table-6.xls/view